This week, UndocuBlack Network and the AAPI Immigrant Rights Organizing Table rallied an estimated 150 protesters on Capitol Hill to push Congress to address immigration reform, the Huffington Post reports.
The protest was part of a full week of advocacy events, staged in order to urge lawmakers to pass a Dream Act with a no-strings-attached pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants that also includes a permanent solution for temporary protected status (TPS) holders.
“We are centering and uplifting our own voices, holding elected officials accountable and demanding a clean Dream Act and a permanent solution for TPS holders together,” Jonathan Jayes-Green, co-creator and national coordinator for the UndocuBlack Network, said during the rally. “The time is now, and Congress needs to act on both before the end of the year.”
Jayes-Green and the other protesters are looking for a solution now, because legal protection for Dreamers (those brought into the U.S. as children) ended earlier this year.
If a replacement program isn’t passed before March 2018, close to 800,000 Dreamers could face the possibility of deportation.
Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) pledged her support for the Dreamers saying, "We are making it known that this is a rainbow movement ... we will not let anyone divide us, whether it’s crazy 45 or our Republican colleagues.”
Representatives. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Judy Chu (D-CA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) also spoke, calling for terminations of TPS programs to be suspended until a legislative solution is found. The TPS designation, typically given to countries that have conditions preventing nationals from returning, has been terminated by the Trump administration for 10 countries with majority-black populations.
Following the rally, activists delivered about 300,000 signatures on petitions in support of Dreamers and TPS holders to the offices of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
In addition to fighting the real and present danger of deportation, activists said they hoped their rally would deter stereotypes that black and Asian Americans communities are at odds.
“Black and [Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander] immigrants are joining hands on this historic day of action to reject the lie that our people are disposable and that we are each other’s enemies,” said Jayes-Green.